Weight of racism
So heavy in our country.
Will we heal from this?
I’ve been deeply immersed in a personal writing project so I am likely to post a little less frequently in the few months. I have come to enjoy my Sunday haiku, so I’m not giving that up. We all have much going on in our lives, and YOU are no exception. But I do want to keep in touch so if you do want to connect and I’m taking an offline hiatus, you can reach me via email.
In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on something I posted about last week, an incident in which I was blind-sided at work by something I never saw coming.
Now that I’ve had the chance to think it through I realized I had not respected the unwritten protocols that exist in this organization. As a clinical researcher by training, I have a love/hate relationship with protocols.
Protocols are awesome because they give you a clear definition of what needs to be done. They are written in language that is specific and precise. Since scientific experiments need to be reproducible and consistent in their execution, protocols are a necessity. When you work with human subjects research, regulations require protocols that are well-vetted, statistically validated and approved by an institutional review board or medical ethics committee.
Organizations often have “power protocols” also. These are the unwritten protocols that take typically 6-18 months at any organization or department (sometimes more) to learn. They are things like:
I had opened the communication channels during a project in which I was gathering feedback. But I did not bank on the fact that, while I was trying to be system-agnostic in my analysis, the department wanted me to fix the tool they already have rather than to select the best tool.
Now that I understand what they want, I can execute on that. I may not agree with the decision, but others with higher grade levels are determining the parameters. And that’s where I encountered one of the unwritten protocols at this institution: if grant money has been used to build a tool, it would take a LOT for us to abandon the tool.
Lesson learned. Onward.
Next year on August 18th the U.S. will celebrate 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. A couple of Western states had given women the right to vote already in 1910. Idaho and Utah had given women the right to vote at the turn of the 19th century.
It is hard for me to imagine the changes in democratic consciousness that have taken place in the last 100 years. Generations of women and men began to understand that true democracy could not exist until more people could exercise their right to representation.
Granted, some people probably wish we had gone back to a world where men were in charge and women were property. I don’t tend to hang out with people like that for obvious reasons.
I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next year with various candidates. I’m hoping we winnow down to less than 5 options by February caucus season. I would like to follow election politics but right now it’s hard to take any candidate too seriously. Unfortunately we do not regulate campaign spending very well in this country. So the people who raise the most money tend to dominate the airwaves.
Given the shock and trauma of the election 3 years ago, and the disastrous result of electing someone who has openly bragging about assaulting women, I am ready to help with GOTV efforts. Let’s make it a celebration! 100 years – can we imagine some new leadership? I say YES WE CAN!
This week I express gratitude for the therapeutic value of music when it comes to calming and centering yourself.
On the way home from work today I listened to Cloud Cult and there are two particular songs I have come to love, after a fellow trainee in my YTT class shared one of her favorites.
It is called The Show Starts Now and it brought tears to my eyes when I heard it. The message was one I needed to hear. My heart was very full that day, and the song resonated with the knowledge that my yoga sisters and I were leaving this lovely experience behind. We are now moving to another phase of our personal work and teaching practice.
I explored other songs on the same album. You’re the Only Thing In Your Way was another one with a message I needed to hear. Sometimes poetry and music can express and help you process emotions in a way that no other medium can reach. Perhaps this is why social movements always seem to rely on the collective experience of music to unite people.
Another lovely piece that I wish could become an anthem for all women is I Am Enough by Daphne Willis.
Rhythm and resonance have the power to move us all.
What music resonates with you when you are in a place of tenderness?
Yesterday I finished the fourth and final session of a girls’ empowerment course that I was teaching every other week for an hour at a local community center.
During the third session I had an eye-opening realization working with these young women (ages 12-14). We got into a discussion of safety and violence, and once again my privilege slapped me in the face. Many of these women had observed or experienced violence in their families or with close loved ones in ways I am unlikely to ever understand.
I had begun reading the book “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Manakem. I wish I had discovered it when I first designed the course. There are many amazing practices that are yoga-like to help both black bodies, white bodies, and police bodies heal the trauma of racism in America.
I managed to teach “legs up the wall” pose first as a calming pose. Then we laid on the floor to do belly breathing for a couple of minutes and to notice where we felt the breath. We tried crocodile (on our bellies) to again notice where we felt the breath. After a few cat/cow transitions, there was silliness and I realized 15 minutes of yoga was the upper limit for this group on this day.
Though this group of women rejected “yoga” when I attempted it on the first class, by starting with legs up the wall, as a way to calm the nervous system, they seemed open to the other poses as well. Less talking, more demonstrating and practice in the future. Good lessons for me.
I thanked this group for being my teachers in this class. They seemed surprised that I would put it like that. But they taught me far more than I could teach them.
On the eve of another 3-day yoga teacher training weekend (#6 of 7), even if I am unable to count those hours toward my practicum requirement as initially planned, I am profoundly grateful.
I found myself with a rather odd disinclination to write on Wednesday. So I picked a strange observation and brought some curiosity to it. That’s always good for a idea; I wish I could be that swift when it comes to Toastmasters Table Topics!
I am fascinated with why the Dole company would pick Captain Marvel to advertise on a pineapple.
I guess another question is: why not?
I had not realized at first that Captain Marvel is a woman, until my husband and I went to the movie a few weeks ago, and I watched the trailer beforehand.
It reminded me of the Ted Talk I saw by Christopher Bell on needing more women superheroes as models rather than simply side-kicks and love interests, a notion with which I agree wholeheartedly.
So I did what any self-respecting internet user does when they do not know something: I googled it. It turns out that there is a campaign to honor healthy female superheroes, with specific health and wellness content. Who knew?
I just thought it was strange that we were handed a pineapple in the store at Leuken’s in Bemidji this past weekend, and it was discounted but not presented as something we could refuse. I do not normally buy pineapples – they seem a hassle to process.
We swim in tide of media that is controlled by 6 large corporations making 9 out of every 10 movies. This narrative-driven industry perpetuates myths and stereotypes about gender, which devalue the contributions of girls and women, selling them princesses while boys get the hero action figures. Is it any wonder that self-confidence plummets about the time girls reach adolescence?
The beauty of Captain Marvel is that she is unapologetic about her strengths and her power. She owns her power, and for me that is a joy to watch. She swims against the tide. But hey, some of us are strong swimmers, and challenges make us resilient. Just something to keep in mind as we consider any voices of doubt in our heads and from whence they came: just about every cultural message we absorb every day.